5 TOP TIPS WHEN YOU’RE STRUGGLING IN A RACE

You know that moment in a race where you want to cry, stamp your feet and throw a strop because you can’t possibly continue even another inch? Everything hurts and you’re tired (and possibly hungry) and the finish line is SO FAR AWAY.

Well, I had that for the first time in a long time during l’Etape London, a 49 mile cycle event that I did a few weeks ago. The background of this event is that I did it in it’s inaugural year, 3 years ago, and loved every gloriously sunny second of it. I flew round, indulged in salty potatoes at the feed station and only bonked hard once. I also knew nothing about fuelling and was coming off the back of a triathlon season that included lots of cycle training and generally higher levels of cardiovascular fitness.

When the opportunity arose to take part again in the event I jumped at the chance. It came a gentle 9 weeks after our epic cycling trip from London to Paris (you can read about that here) so I thought ‘great, my residual fitness will carry me over as well as regular training rides every weekend’. In reality, life and a health blip got in the way and I hadn’t cycled properly in about a month by the time l’Etape London came round. Whoops.

Luckily I was doing it with two other friends who are both badass cyclists and I knew I’d be able to make it. I just didn’t know how close to not making it I would get.

The event itself was relatively well-organised. The race village at the Olympic Park Velodrome was bigger than last time with some tasty-looking food trucks, a huge water tank for refills and various other brands who had some cool kit on show. We were registered for the Cycletta wave, a women’s only wave, which when it came down to it consisted of 6 women. Yep, 6 women. Apparently a lot of the Cycletta wave had gone off with earlier waves to cycle with their male friends which kind of defeats the point. I know once you’re out on the course it doesn’t matter so much but we did see those 3 other women out on the course and it felt good knowing that we were kind of like a little team. Next year, they either need to cut that wave altogether or publicise it more so it becomes more special.

The first 30 miles of the race flew by, mostly because Elle and I were nattering away the whole time as we had a lot to catch up on. The hills that forced me to walk last time seemed much more insignificant this time for both of us and although they were tough they weren’t world-endingly tough. The course volunteers were (in the most part) really helpful and they cheered us on the whole way.

It was after the (delicious) feed station that things started to unravel. My legs felt heavy, my hips and glutes hurt and I could feel the tell-tale start of chafe on my undercarriage. From that point it was a slog to the end of the course. 20 miles of slog. To put that into perspective, that’s about 2.5 hours of struggling.

Elle kept pushing me and we took it in turns to go in front and lead the pace. Her constant support and energy kept me going despite wanting to stop with every fibre of my body. With about 3 miles to go she zoomed off for a strong finish and I tried to follow suit. It didn’t really happen but I did get across that finish line in one piece. Just.

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So here are my top tips on getting through a race when you’re struggling:

1) The world isn’t ending

This is something that I always have to remind myself. There was life before this struggle and there will be life after it and looking back on it, it’s never as bad as you think it is in the moment

2) Take your mind off it

Most of the struggle in these situations is mental. I mean, yes it hurts physically, but it’s your brain that wants you to give in to the pain and quit. So do what I do and think your pain away. My favourite game to play is daydreaming about what I would do if I won the lottery. Honestly, before you know it you’ve spent millions of pounds and you’re another 30 minutes down the road

3) Remind yourself you’ve done it before

If you haven’t actually done the exact race before, you’ve definitely hit tough moments in training and pushed through them. You’ve done it once, you can do it again

4) Think about crossing the line

This works for me every time. The draw of adding another medal to my lineup really helps to keep me moving forward. If you don’t finish, you don’t get a medal and if you don’t get a medal then what are you going to post on Instagram that evening?

5) Set mini goals

One of my favourite games to play in the closing stages of a race is to pick out individuals and make it my mission to overtake them. If they overtake you then you have to work harder to get back in front. Yes, it’s petty but my god it keeps you moving

 

Of course, all of these tips are to be used within reason. If you’re injured (including dangerous levels of dehydration) then my advice would be to stop, seek medical attention and come back next year for that medal. It’ll still be there.

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Thank you to Human Race for giving me a space in l’Etape London in return for this review. All opinions are my own

WELLNESS WITH JOHN LEWIS

Everyone’s talking about self-love at the moment and it’s something that I’m trying to work hard at so when John Lewis got in touch to see if I wanted to spend an evening with them talking about wellness I jumped at the chance.

For me, wellness is holistic, it’s not just about what you eat and it’s not just about what you do. Wellness goes into every aspect of your life. One of the most important though (for me at least) is what you put into your body. I know that eating a certain way helps stop me bloating, lets me sleep well and aids my recovery from working out and the stresses of everyday life. That way includes a lot of unprocessed food, plenty of protein and all of the fresh fruit & vegetables.

Smoothies are therefore a brilliant way of including all of the things above in my diet. During the summer I have them for breakfast a few times a week and if I’m short on time after a workout or I need to eat on the go then I’ll often have one during the day. They’re so versatile and as we learnt from Hayley, the nutritionist at the event, the body absorbs up to four times more nutrients and digests them up to twenty times faster when you drink your fruit & veggies.

Helen and I teamed up to make what turned out to be a huge amount of smoothie and it was delicious.

In our smoothie we had:

Banana

Pineapple

Cos lettuce

Spinach

Vanilla whey protein

Coconut water

Frozen berries

While I wouldn’t normally have quite so much fruit in my smoothies it was very tasty! My normal ratio would be 1 part fruit to 3 parts vegetable (plus other yummy bits like peanut butter and flaxseed) and my biggest tip for getting some extra veg into a smoothie would be to add cucumber. Although it’s not as nutrient-dense as other green veg it’s packed full of water and brings a freshness to the taste that the more leafy-greens don’t.

What’s your favourite smoothie recipe?

WALKING THE SHINE WALK

11 years ago I decided that it would a be a good idea to walk 13.1 miles through London at night with my best friend, her sister, her mum and her mum’s friends. In our bras. With no training. Having got back from 6 months of travelling 5 days earlier.

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In hindsight the no training thing was a bit of an issue because the next day I was totally incapacitated. I was so sore that I could hardly walk. It also didn’t help that the toilets around the route were out of order and I was busting from about 1.5 hours in.

When Sole got in touch to see if I’d be interested in taking on the half or full marathon course of this year’s Shine Walk to raise money for Cancer Research UK I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see if my legs might fare better now that I’m ‘into fitness’.

Sole sent me over some socks, Response footbeds and sports flip flops to get me going with my training. The socks are my favourite pair of socks I’ve ever worn and I know how weird that sounds but seriously, they’re so silky smooth and light that you hardly feel like you have them on at all. I’ve been wearing the flip flops around the house and to take the dog out for short walks although they’re not the sexiest of footwear so I’m not sure I’d wear them out. However they are great for supporting the feet after a hard training session especially as they start to mould to your feet the more you wear them.

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The Response footbeds were interesting because for most exercise I like to wear my Saucony Omni’s to support my over-pronating feet but I do have a couple of pairs of Nike Free’s for when I need to dress up but I secretly just still want to be in sports gear. If I wear these for too long I do get pain in my knees and feet from over-pronating so I fitted the footbeds into a pair of these. You simply heat them up in the oven and then stand on them in your shoes so that they can mould to your feet. They take a little bit of getting used to but once they’re moulded they make the shoes really comfortable.

The event itself was brilliant and much easier than last time thank goodness! We set off from Southwark Park after a hype-up by none other than Anthea Turner (love a bit of Anth) and the group split up pretty quickly into similar walking paces. A couple of the early mile-markers seemed a little bit odd with mile 2 feeling like it took forever before we passed the marker on Tower Bridge.

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The key to these kind of long-distance events is keeping the brain occupied and I had that in the delightful company of Becca (From Strength To Strength). We talked all things nutrition, weightlifting, fitness, travelling, James Bond and countless other things while we ticked off the miles.

Before we knew it we had passed through the final pit-stop (which were incredible with different chocolate biscuits at each one) and marched the final 2.5 miles to the finish. There was a fair bit of pain in my feet and hips at the end but walking on concrete for 4 hours will do that to you.

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The organisation of the event, the route, the marshals and the medal at the end were brilliant and it was great to see people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking part in what is not just a stroll down the river. The best part is that as a team we raised nearly £2000 for Cancer Research UK.

GLADIATORS ASSEMBLE

You might remember a little race that I did last year called The Gauntlet Games, an entry level obstacle race that I did with a group of friends. We basically laughed our way round the 10k and across all of the obstacles but one of the things that really made it for us were the gladiators so this year we decided to give back and be gladiators ourselves.

A very early start saw us arriving at Trent Park in deepest, darkest North London where we changed into our gladiator costumes (I kept my hoody and leggings on underneath because it was bloody freezing) and we shivered our way over to our obstacle

 

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Kate and I were on the Zig Zag Walls where we had to direct people to traverse the walls using the harder or easier side. Both sides were of course made harder by the fact that we were armed with super soakers filled with paint water… Claire and Carly were stationed on Life’s A Beach where they had to face people charging through a load of beach balls

 

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We didn’t have to wait too long until the first runners came through in dribs and drabs and then all of a sudden we were inundated with runners. The time absolutely flew by as we challenged, encouraged, cajoled and soaked the runners. We were met with screams, scolding and a bit of soaking in return as everyone took on the Zig Zag Walls.

It was so much fun knowing that we were helping people to love their first experience of an obstacle race and helping them get round the distance. The time flew by and then before we knew it the last group had gone through (big shout out to the mum and dad running the race with their awesome kids) and we were tidying up and heading back to the finish.

 

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I still think the Gauntlet Games is a brilliant obstacle race for entry-level runners, even with the inclusion this year of some tougher obstacles including monkey bars over water and the rope swing through the finish line. And if you don’t think you’re quite up for running the event, try volunteering as a gladiator so you can get the feeling of the race before you do it. Particularly as a gladiator you get to pick a race at another location to run for free!

I HEART LONDON – THE BRITISH 10K

Aaaaaaaaannnnnddddd I’m back!

There’s been a brief hiatus on this poor old blog of mine thanks to a super busy period of work and a little something called wedding planning (which is nearly complete thank goodness). Less than 8 weeks to go. Eek.

I thought I’d return though with a blog about how I’m planning a gloriously sunny (hopefully) run through my home town, London, on July 10th in the British 10k.

I’ll have returned from a gluttonous 3 weeks in France for my wedding and honeymoon a few days previous to the race so my plan is mostly just to trot round and soak up the atmosphere of London in the summer, especially as the roads will be closed.

Vitality British 10K London run  Copyright image 2015© For photographic enquiries please call Anthony Upton 07973 830 517 or email info@anthonyupton.com  This image is copyright  the photographer2015©. This image has been supplied by Anthony Upton and must be credited Jason Bye/Anthony Upton. The author is asserting his full Moral rights in relation to the publication of this image. All rights reserved. Rights for onward transmission of any image or file is not granted or implied. Changing or deleting Copyright information is illegal as specified in the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. If you are in any way unsure of your right to publish this image please contact Anthony Upton on +44(0)7973 830 517 or email:

Vitality British 10K London run
Copyright image 2015©
For photographic enquiries please call Anthony Upton 07973 830 517 or email info@anthonyupton.com

The route goes through all of my favourite parts of London including Hyde Park Corner, Big Ben, the Thames and Westminster Bridge before a big finish with a lap of Parliament Square and crossing the finish line on Whitehall. With 15,000 runners there’s bound to plenty of excited spectators which for me is always the best part of a race.

I also love running with friends so sign up here and come and run with me!

 

DISCLAIMER: I’ve kindly been given a place in this race so I can review it afterwards

CONQUERING L’ETAPE LONDON

You know those races that you sign up for and then forget until it’s just round the corner and you realise you haven’t done much specific training?

Well that’s how I felt going into L’Etape London, a 75km cycle sportive starting in Stratford and heading out to deepest darkest Essex before coming all the way back.

In the run up to the race I’d done a couple of longish cycles (55km and 50km) as well as the 40km in the middle of my triathlon in August but that’s about it. I’ve always loved cycling ever since I was young so although I see these long cycles as a challenge it’s certainly not something that I was nervous going into.

The day dawned beautifully clear and sunny so after my normal pre-race breakfast of protein oats I hopped on my bike and gently cycled the 5km down to the Olympic Park velodrome where the start was. There were fewer people doing the race than I thought there would be so the event village was small, uncrowded and friendly. There were no queues for the toilets (shock horror) and there was no wait to have a last minute tyre pressure check.

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The only thing that I noticed at the start and the whole way through the race was the lack of women. I’d say that about 70% of the entrants were men of all ages and the rest were women. In my start wave there were a few older women but I was one of the youngest women there. Come on girls, it’s time to get cycling!

Anyway, off we went into the beautiful morning and before I knew it we had ridden through most of East London and we had hit Epping Forest. This is where the hills started, at this point they were long and gentle which was good to get my head down and pedal steadily to reach the top. Just before Epping we turned off to Theydon Bois and this is when the real pain hit. Between Theydon Bois and Ongar (the turn point) it seemed like we were on one long switchback. The ups and downs were short, sharp and never-ending.

My quads and hamstrings were really starting to protest when we hit the feed station, a total blessing. There was a table laden with pain au chocolat, biscuits, sweets, bananas and boiled salted potatoes. Potatoes?! I know, they were amazing… I didn’t want to spike my blood sugar at this point (34km in, not even halfway) because I knew that the sugar crash would hit me before the end of the race and I would really struggle. All I needed was some carbohydrates to replace all of the glucose that I had used up in my muscles.

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After scoffing 4 potatoes, refilling my water bottle and stretching my legs I hopped back on my bike and set off through the cobbles of Ongar. From this point to the end of the race the pack was much more strung out as people spent different lengths of time at the feed station. I spent quite a few stretches all by myself which was amazing.

The sunshine, countryside and sense of freedom that cycling brings all added up to one happy little lady. I was actually smiling to myself at various points of the race because I was just so happy to be out in the sunshine cycling as fast as I could.

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Eventually I made it to Epping where I waved at my in-laws’ house and sped back through the forest down those hills. With about 15km to go I hit the wall. Everything was sore and my legs just didn’t want to work anymore. I stopped for a couple of minutes, had a gel and a swig of water and stretched my legs. It did the trick because a couple of minutes after I got back on my bike I felt strong again and I flew down through East London back to Stratford.

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The final km was on the road track at the velodrome with a sprint finish and I gave it everything I had left, crossing the line in just under 3.5 hours. I picked up my medal and pretty much kept cycling! The 5km home felt like a luxury cool down as I took it at a nice slow pace.

The biggest shock and biggest pat on my back was when I checked the results later that night and found out that I came 8th in my age category! Bloody hell! I’m normally that one plodding in at the back but not this time.

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Overall I would massively recommend this race and I’ll definitely be doing it next year! Maybe even the longer route… Plus how sexy is this medal?!

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COMPLETING MY FIRST OLYMPIC TRIATHLON

Last Saturday I completed my first ever Olympic triathlon. Now that’s a sentence I never thought I would say…

After my first Sprint triathlon back in 2012 I swore never to do another one and especially never do an Olympic triathlon. These people must be mad to consider the Olympic distances.

Fast forward 3 years and with one more Sprint distance under my belt I was arriving at the London Triathlon with a hell of a lot of sweat and pain in front of me.

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Note the superhero pants… I was channeling Wonder Woman

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MUMS ON A MISSION

Pre and post-natal fitness is something I hear a lot about being a female Personal Trainer because getting pregnant and having a baby puts a huge toll on the female body and understandably women want to be in the best shape possible going into it and once the baby has arrived.

While I’m not yet a mum myself I do understand the struggles of getting fit again or even of getting fit for the first time which is common amongst soon-to-be and new mums.

When I was invited to go to a fitness event for new mums I jumped at the chance to educate myself further on how to help this group of potential clients. The event was run by Kiddicare and showcased Kimberly Wyatt’s Mums On A Mission 24 minute daily workouts that can be found on the Instructor Live platform (think Netflix but for workout videos). Each day you get sent a new workout so it never gets boring. You can see some of the moves in action here.

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PLAYING TENNIS WITH MARTINA HINGIS AND MAUI JIM

Sometimes there are events that can entice even me out of East London which is how I found myself at The Wimbledon Club on the middle Sunday of the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Yep, my first time at Wimbledon and I was going to not only meet Martina Hingis but also get the opportunity to go through a clinic with her and learn some of her tricks. Wow.

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I met some of the other lovely blogger girls outside the station and we all piled into taxis over to The Wimbledon Club where we were welcomed by the Maui Jim team and their lovely sunglasses.

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